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Love and Light

Education Wing - National Tribute to Victor Kanu - October 2011

On Saturday 22nd October, numerous Sai devotees gathered at Oxhey Wood Primary School in Watford to remember and celebrate the life of Victor Kanu who passed away on 3rd September this year.

Victor was a leading light of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) who inspired many people in the UK, Zambia and around the world to teach the programme and adopt it in their own lives. What was clear from all the tributes paid to him during the afternoon by people who had worked with him closely for many years was that Victor was himself a living embodiment of human values. Swami Himself described him as “pure white on the inside”. People remembered him as a guru, a mentor, a father-figure and a constant source of support, inspiration and wisdom.

His booming voice, tremendous energy, skilful oration, sense of fun and love of food were all remembered with great fondness, as well as his unshakeable faith in Swami, his outstanding self-discipline and his all-consuming passion for SSEHV.

The event was organised by the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE) UK.

The first reminiscences were from Mel Griffin who knew Victor in London in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and narrated stories from his life as a political exile, secondary school teacher and spiritual aspirant and leader.

Dr Daksha Trivedi and Judith Berry talked about Victor’s work to promote SSEHV in the UK during the 1980’s, sharing fascinating archive clips and press cuttings. Usha Lim and Kapil Dudakia recounted very touching personal stories of ways in which Victor had impacted their own lives.

Dr Madhavi Majmudar and Som Bahanda spoke of some of the many challenges that Victor and his wife Geneveva faced in setting up the Sathya Sai School in Ndola which became known as the ‘Miracle School of Zambia’. Although many of us were no doubt aware that the Kanus gave up their lives as they knew them and sold their house in London and most of their possessions to raise money to build the school, hearing about the difficulties they faced in doing this (which included death threats and grave logistical problems) really brought home what an incredible demonstration of faith this was. People tried to stop them and told them they were mad but they only listened to Swami.

Vinod Lad and Carole Alderman, who could not be present in person, sent moving personal reflections on what Victor had meant to them and how much he had helped them in their own SSEHV work. The talks were interspersed with sweet and uplifting songs from the SSEHV programme performed by Zita Starkie and Richard Braithwaite.

Prof Keshavan Niranjan, Director of the ISSE UK, compered the event with a light touch, and delicious food was served to attendees by devotees from the local Sai centre.

It’s not possible to relate here all the colourful stories and examples of Victor’s life and character that were told on the day, but suffice to say that the overall impression received was of a very great man who was deeply loved by very many people. He had an impact not only at the highest international levels, by introducing SSEHV into the UN’s water programme, but also on a very personal, individual scale – not least for all the hundreds of children labelled as drop-outs and failures whose lives have been transformed by the Sathya Sai School of Zambia.

Everyone who knew Victor was affected by him because he was a powerful force for good, a living embodiment of SSEHV. He summarised his belief in the effectiveness of SSEHV across the globe by declaring at the World Education Conference held in 2008: One may wonder whether this awesome “Sai Model” which is producing wonderful young men and women can be replicated elsewhere outside India. The answer is resoundingly yes, because Sai is everywhere, within us, around us, above us and below us. Replication is applicable and inevitable: if we have faith in our Bhagwan and allow our lives at home, in the Sathya Sai Schools and Institutes, and everywhere become true reflections of His Life and Teachings, as a Model of Excellence; if we are not afraid to use His Name when we return to our respective countries; if we do not chase other models; and if we do not believe we are the doers instead of being instruments in His Divine Hands; if we adopt the policy of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness, and togetherness rather than separateness.”

Although Victor is greatly missed, we are very grateful for his life.